President of Ukraine

Austria is a neutral state, yet it helps Ukraine as a defender of life and common values - Volodymyr Zelenskyy following a meeting with Alexander Van der Bellen

1 February 2023 - 18:43

Austria is a neutral state, yet it helps Ukraine as a defender of life and common values - Volodymyr Zelenskyy following a meeting with Alexander Van der Bellen

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a meeting in Kyiv with Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, who is on a visit to our country.

The President of Ukraine emphasized the importance of the visit of the Austrian President at the head of the delegation that included representatives of the Austrian government and the President of the Austrian Association of Municipalities, which represents 70% of Austrian society.

According to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during the meeting in Kyiv, the parties discussed in detail the issues of energy, economy, humanitarian cooperation, development of Ukrainian communities - everything that helps preserve and restore normal life in times of war.

"We have also discussed the issues of our political cooperation in Europe and other international platforms," the President of Ukraine said at a meeting with media representatives following the negotiations with Alexander Van der Bellen.

According to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during their visit to the de-occupied communities of the Kyiv region, in particular Bucha and Borodyanka, members of the Austrian delegation were able to see with their own eyes that in this confrontation unleashed by Russia, every person and country faces a choice: whether to remain neutral when evil tries to destroy lives and ruin universal values, or to help protect life and common values.

"Indeed, Austria is a neutral state in the military sense of the word. But in a broader sense, as a defender of life and our common European values, Austria supports Ukraine," the Head of State noted.

In particular, the President of Ukraine thanked Austria for humanitarian cooperation and assistance in the amount of almost EUR 200 million. In addition, Austria helps our country in the framework of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and there are first results in the assistance with rebuilding Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy also noted the significant social support for Ukrainian internally displaced persons, assistance in the treatment and rehabilitation of Ukrainian children. He expressed special gratitude for the Neighbour in Need program.

"We are grateful to this program, to the society, to the Austrian public for allocating about 92 million euros of aid," he said.

Cooperation between Ukrainian and Austrian cities was also noted. For example, Innsbruck donates generators and supports the community of Kharkiv, while Linz sends humanitarian aid to its partner city of Zaporizhzhia.

"The assistance from the city of Vienna is significant. We have agreed on cooperation between Bucha and the community of Vösendorf near Vienna," the President of Ukraine said.

During the negotiations, Volodymyr Zelenskyy informed Alexander Van der Bellen about the situation on the frontline and Russia's intentions to intensify terror against Ukraine and its citizens. He told his colleague about the urgent needs to counter this terror, in particular, about the systems of protection against attack drones used by Russian terrorists, electronic warfare systems, and other non-lethal means with which Austria could significantly help.

The President of Ukraine invited Austria to be more actively involved in humanitarian demining in Ukraine, which is currently one of the priorities. Ukraine also needs the support for the functioning of the State Emergency Service, which has a significant shortage of special fire trucks.

"Mine clearance is a global issue that is part of a point in the Peace Formula. There are many different challenges and they need to be overcome. And, of course, we see Austria as one of those states that can join the list of countries that will deal with humanitarian issues in the Peace Formula," he said.

In addition, Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about his intention to discuss with Alexander Van der Bellen the issue of the Peace Formula and humanitarian initiatives, such as Grain from Ukraine. He thanked Austria for having already joined this program.

The Head of State urged Austrian business and communities to increase cooperation with Ukraine and Ukrainian business in the issues of reconstruction and modernization of the energy sector already now.

"Winter is not over. We are interested in energy support, generators and so on," he said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the provision of ambulance vehicles for the territories liberated from the occupation another important issue: there is a need for 400-500 ambulances now.

While discussing cooperation between states at the level of the European Union, the President of Ukraine emphasized the need to further increase sanctions against Russia.

"Our team emphasized that the terrorist state must feel the price of its terror and the real limitations on its ability to continue this war, this aggression," he said.

In this context, the Ukrainian side drew attention to the situation with Austrian businesses. Some of them, despite the horrific Russian terror, do not leave Russia and continue to support the terrorist state with their taxes. Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that this issue needs to be systematically discussed.

"In particular, we pointed out the situation with Raiffeisen Bank, which not only operates in Russia, but also makes decisions, for example, on "tax holidays" for those mobilized to the Russian army. We believe that this is unacceptable in today's realities. I believe that this important issue, like many others, will be resolved on the basis of our common values - the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights," the Head of State said.

For his part, the Austrian President said that in Bucha and Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, the horrors of war are being experienced, which previously could only be learned from movies or books about World War II.

Alexander Van der Bellen assured Ukraine of solidarity, as the Ukrainian people are fighting for their freedom every day and defending common European values and democracy.

"Therefore, this war concerns us all. Austria is a neutral country, but military neutrality does not mean that we are equally neutral in terms of values. If one state in Europe attacks another, we will never be indifferent to it," the Austrian President said.

He emphasized that the people of his country stand by Ukraine and will strongly support the Ukrainian people by all possible means, including through the provision of humanitarian aid.

Alexander Van der Bellen also noted that Ukraine is part of the European family, so Austria supports the European integration perspective of our country and will provide practical assistance in carrying out the necessary reforms.

According to him, the Memorandums of Understanding signed today in the fields of energy and environmental protection will help intensify cooperation between the countries and support the implementation of tasks necessary for Ukraine's accession to the EU.

The President of Austria announced the allocation of EUR 5 million for the restoration of transformer substations in Ukraine.

Alexander Van der Bellen also emphasized the interest of the Austrian side in contributing to the reconstruction of Ukraine.